Ryanair has announced that it will outfit its fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft with split-scimitar winglets to improve efficiency and reduce fuel usage.
The entire retrofitting program will cost approximately $200 million and will be completed throughout the coming European winter.
According to the airline, adding the split-scimitar winglets to the aircraft will reduce fuel consumption by 1.5 per cent.
While a 1.5 per cent reduction in fuel burn may not sound like much, for a company facing a fuel bill of over US$2.18 billion in just the first half of 2022, the numbers start to add up.
The winglets represent a potential annual saving of approximately US$60 million. This is a rough estimation and does not consider all of the complex operational costs that can vary heavily in the aviation industry.
Such savings would result in the $200m retrofit program paying for itself before the decade is over.
Aside from the financial benefits, lower fuel burn rates translate directly to lower CO2 emissions, which are attractive to airlines looking to work toward net zero emissions by 2050.
Ryanair’s entire fleet of 409 Boeing 737-800 aircraft will be fitted with the split-scimitar winglets.
As may be expected in such a large fleet, there is a huge variance in the ages of 737-800s across the fleet. The oldest operational aircraft in the fleet is nearly 18 years old, with the newest aircraft being just under four years old.
Ryanair didn’t make any references to excluding the older 737-800s from the retrofitting program, which should suggest that the airline has no plans to retire any of the aircraft in the near future.
The announcement of the retrofitting program comes just after Ryanair reported that it had made an incredible post-pandemic recovery, posting a record US$1.37 billion half-yearly profit.
With a total revenue until September 2022 surpassing US$6.5 billion, the airline managed to triple its revenue compared to the same period in 2021.
The primary cause for this success was careful preparation by Ryanair to be ready for the surge in demand that was sure to came once COVID-19 restrictions began to lift.
The airline positioned itself well for this, carrying 95.1 million passengers until September 30, more than doubling its 2021 figure of 39.1 million passengers.